Loves to play rough
Though it provokes guffaws among Spanish speakers, the Pajero is a serious off-roader
They all look alike, but not all high-riding four-wheel-drive wagons will survive in the rough-and-tumble of the offroad world.
Most are labelled softroaders for good reason; they’re better left in the shed if you intend to get off the beaten track. Only a handful are up to the task of serious four-wheeldriving. One of them is the Mitsubishi Pajero, which has carved out a formidable reputation for beating round the bush. Despite its wellearned cred (and being unfortunately labelled with what turns out to be Spanish slang for “wanker”; there it’s known as the Montero), the Paj has had to learn to live in the shadow of its rivals, Toyota’s ubiquitous LandCruiser and Nissan’s Patrol.
But those who know rate the big Mitsubishi highly. The NT was the maker’s move to match rivals and get the wagon up to speed with market demands for more comfort and refinement.
Little was changed in terms of the Pajero’s off-road ability, it had everything it needed to get it through the tough stuff, from decent ground clearance and short overhangs to its low-range gearing and locked diff etc.
The most obvious changes were inside. You could have dual-zone air, power seats, leather trim, rear DVD player, super sound system, Bluetooth, satnav, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Less obvious was the change to the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, which had 18 per cent more power and torque and improved fuel economy.
With 441Nm of torque on tap it ably towed 3000kg, up 500kg from the previous model, enough to handle a decent sized caravan. For those hooked on petrol there was also the 3.8-litre V6, but that was unchanged in the new model.
Those keen to get the best economy had no choice but the diesel, which on Mitsubishi’s claims would return 8.4 L/100km with the manual gearbox or 9.2 L/100km with the five-speed auto. If you weren't bothered by fuel consumption the V6 would do 13.5 L/100km. There was a five-speed auto, which was the one most chosen, or a five-speed manual.
For those keen on towing the manual shift of the auto made the auto an obvious choice for ease of open-road driving. Like its rivals the Pajero was a big bus made for a big job, but it was also a relaxed, comfortable wagon to drive.
The NT Pajero is generally reliable and rugged and gives little trouble.
Look under the vehicle for signs of off-road use. While the Pajero is capable of handling the rough and tumble of bush tracks, you don’t want to buy one that has been used off-road extensively and possibly suffered for it.
Look for bashed-in or sandblasted bodywork, flattened chassis fittings, crunched exhausts, battered suspension components, torn seals etc. They’re all signs, not only of off-road use, but also of the more concerning abuse. A towbar on the back and caravan or boat in the drive are signs a vehicle has been used for towing.
That’s not something to be overly concerned about; its more a sign the vehicle has been working hard. Servicing is even more crucial on a hard working vehicle, whether it’s in a tough off-road situation or towing a heavy load for hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometres.
For that reason it’s important to check the service record to make sure the oil has been regularly changed when recommended by Mitsubishi. When test driving a diesel look for black smoke from the exhaust, particularly when accelerating. Like virtually all brands today the diesel uses common-rail technology, and the injectors wear out. If you detect black smoke, you could be up for new injectors.
Sound, solid, reliable workhorse for anyone with a need to go bush or tow a big load.